For all naturalists and humanists who have a religious or spiritual inclination,
To those who did not attend the conference last week, you missed a good one. All speakers were good to excellent offering much knowledge of value. It was the most active on RN in the 6 years I have been attending. Ursula, Ted and Loyal had two sessions on the conference theme from an RN perspective, Michael had 3 on his book in process on RN in the next 100 years, I held a discussion group on RN opening with the first example of an RN ritual and BJ, the minister at morning chapel, did a fabulous job on presenting her ‘sermons’ using Asian religious themes. She used the words religious naturalism often. I also had a poster up on RN that generated some ‘discussions’ and several ideas on improving the poster for next year.
In the RN discussion, it was suggested to get the group more active. Ursula as one of the leaders (Phil Hefner is the other although he has not attended in some years) will be reviewing membership. One or more new leaders may be added. As this unfolds, I will be suggesting that we use the Ning site rather than an email means (there are a number of reasons to do this). See http://religiousnaturalism2.ning.com/forum/topics/iras-rn-discussio.... If you go there sign up.
My RN ritual was to open the meeting with a bow, note we were sitting in a circle, turned on the light of Reason and had several minutes of silence. The bow was inspired by BJ’s Shinto bow of humility, the circle was an American Indian Talking Circle, the light was from UU’s and Star Island history and the silence from Quakerism. Ted earlier suggested that RN offers little new to the religious arena, a position I can agree with- no need to reinvent the wheel. Loyal countered that RN can add some value to the religious area – I also agree with that – at the heart of science is the idea of continuing development – we can improve the wheel.
I had a number of discussions with people on the IRAS and RN relationship. My position, which seemed to be in agreement with others, is IRAS should remain an independent/open/pluralistic organization but should take credit for aiding RN development which is trying to combine religion and naturalism. I do not see value and perhaps even harm to IRAS in becoming an RN organization. There is value to RN being associated with IRAS and I think that can be done in a helpful way for both. A strong outreach to both progressive theists and non-theists could help this effort.